the prophetic no

the last time i wrote about saying no was about two years ago. i’ll put the links to those posts at the bottom of this post, but i wanted to circle back to it because the prophetic no came up again with spencer recently.

he was writing about discovering/learning the 10:1 rule (note: find a link to this blog post of his) for two areas of his work: writing and coding. for every word in a finished piece, 10x the words were probably written and the piece was probably edited 10x. so for a 1000 word final piece, 10,000 words were written in the course of 10 drafts. and for writing elegant code, a 10,000 line program probably had about 100,000 lines of code before it got to that beautiful endpoint.

and that reminded me of “the prophetic no” that joel introduced me to all those years ago (note: i haven’t been able to find anyone else discussion the prophetic no with this definition but that doesn’t mean it’s not a real thing; it just means it might not have made it to the internet (yet)).

the prophetic no also follows the 10:1 rule: for every yes you say, you should be saying no 10x.

this is an absurdly hard thing to do. and yet, i’ve found that if i do it, the quality of my life goes up significantly. i have more time to focus, less time spent bouncing from place to place, activity to activity, person to person, idea to idea, and project to project. i have long open mornings to focus and do good work. i have had to develop a thick no skin but the practice of saying no is worth its weight in gold.

i have found that when i’m transitioning between life phases, seasons, jobs, whatever, my no habit drops a bit. but i think now that i’ve noticed that pattern, i can recalibrate and try to keep my no level high.

and as i said back in a 2016 post, saying no isn’t just for it’s own sake. the reason to say no is that there are just too many things to do and i’ve found (along with many others) that i’m happier when i can focus on a few things i’m passionate about and do them well.

other posts about saying no:

words / writing / post-processing
384w / 10min / 6min